Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Deregulate the Hit By Pitch!

It never fails. Every summer, the bean ball becomes the talk of the nation. Some will argue that the league should do more to punish and prevent pitchers from hitting batters. Others will argue that pitcher has a right to the inside corner of the plate, and that they have the right to move hitters who crowd the plate off of it. Finally, there is a solution: Deregulate the Hit By Pitch!

Here's how it will work. First, Major League Baseball will ammend one of the most basic rules of the game. When a batter gets hit by a pitch, they will no longer be awarded first base. Instead, the pitch will be called a ball and the ball will remain live, meaning that runners may advance at their own will/peril if a pitch that hits a batter gets by the catcher. Pitchers may not be thrown out of a game for hitting a batter.

This is only half of the deregulation, however. After being beaned, a hitter may charge the mound without being thrown out of the game as long as he does not bring any weapons with him (ie, the bat). Teammates may not join the mano-y-mano duel, however, or they will risk being thrown out of the game and/or suspended. Strategically, however, this does not mean that a hitter can charge the mound with impunity. Leaving the batting area will result in a dead ball that will prevent runners from advancing.

Other current rules will remain in place. A hitter must make some attempt to avoid being hit, or at least not actively attempt to be hit, by a pitch. Any pitch that hits a part of the batter's body that is in the strike zone shall be called a strike and the at bat will continue.

Instead of teams and players only worrying about suspensions, the onus would now be on the individuals and their concern for their own well being. Hit Prince Fielder, and you may get beaten to a pulp with no help from teammates to get you out of it. Crowd the plate and anticipate a fastball in the ribs with no real reward. Once there are immediate and painful repercussions for the individual, the beanball wars will aleviate.

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